by Sr. Dianna Maring
I spent the last half of my time as Postulant in Carmel Terrace which is one of the assisted living facilities operated by our Congregation in Massachusetts. I was rotated in various departments but most of my time was spent in the Activities department. This was probably my favorite assignment because I love activities! Their independent lifestyle allowed them to be more involved in complex games. They participated in games like French themed BINGO where the residents have to call out a French word instead of BINGO. Another game was guessing the answers to riddles and mysteries, and also going out to short trips like the local Wal-Mart. I found that meeting the needs of the more physically active and cognitively intact residents can be difficult but it can also be a lot of fun! This type of residents was the population our Foundress, Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa, accepted in her days and really got the Community started!
My next assignment was in Spiritual Care or Pastoral Ministry. This mostly involved visiting residents and giving them a comforting and supportive presence. Sometimes they may want soft music played, a story or poetry read to them, a card game, someone to talk to, or just a quiet visit and companionship. Of course my favorite thing to do was to pray with them. I saw prayer as their chief need. My chief concern was their spiritual wellbeing. Their souls were the most important thing to me. In order to help the soul we need to consider the whole person.
Then, I was a general volunteer on the Alzheimer’s wing. I loved our residents suffering from Alzheimer’s and loved working with them! Having a grandmother who passed away from early onset dementia, I have a strong compassion and empathy for these residents. Again, it is important to provide holistic care, and to meet their needs. I learned that engaging them at their level of reality is important because their reality is different from ours. A kind word or a hand to hold means more to them than we can ever know. I really felt the Lord’s presence in residents that spoke very little or not at all. These silent tabernacles were truly witnesses of the suffering Christ.
I cannot believe my Postulancy is almost over! Time seems to have flown by. My other companions, Sr. Cathie, Sr. Heather, Sr. Maureen and I will shortly become novices and receive the Carmelite habit on October 1st, Feast of St. Therese, who is my favorite Saint! If having a vocation has taught me anything, it is trust in the Lord. If things don’t work out the way you thought you wanted them to, then rejoice! God has something better in store for you. He knows what he is doing. There is no need to worry about anything. He uses all things for good and everything happens for a reason even when we can’t see or understand the reason. I am learning to trust in Him! I am in complete awe of my vocation and all the graces, gifts, and blessings the Lord has given me. I have never known such great peace and joy! This has been a beautiful journey that continues to sanctify me by increasing my faith, hope, and love. I can’t imagine myself anywhere else. I am eagerly looking forward to the next step in my faith journey in Carmel when I become a novice!
I echo the words of the Psalmist, “Trust in the Lord and do good that you may dwell in the land and live secure. Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire. Commit your way to the Lord; trust that God will act and make your integrity shine like the dawn, your vindication like noonday.”
( Psalm 37:3-6)